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  • Writer's pictureSelena | Beauty's Library

The Berlin Letters Review




Rating: 4/5

Near the end of the Cold War, a CIA code breaker discovers a symbol she recognizes from her childhood, which launches her across the world to the heart of Berlin just before the wall comes tumbling down. November 1989 —After finding a secret cache of letters with intelligence buried in the text, CIA cryptographer Luisa Voekler learns that not only is her father alive but he is languishing in an East German Stasi jail. After piecing together the letters with a series of articles her grandfather saved, Luisa seeks out journalists Bran Bishop and Daniel Rudd. They send her to the CIA, to Andrew Cademan—her boss. Luisa confronts Cademan and learns that nothing is a coincidence, but he will not help her free her father. So she takes matters into her own hands, empties her bank account, and flies to West Berlin. As the adrenaline wears off and she recognizes she has no idea how to proceed, Luisa is both relieved and surprised when a friend shows up with contacts and a rudimentary plan to sneak her across the wall. Alternating storylines between Luisa and her father, The Berlin Letters shows the tumultuous early days of the wall, bringing Berlin, the epicenter of the Cold War, to life while also sharing one family’s journey through secrets, lies, and division to love, freedom, and reconciliation.

 

I received a free copy of The Berlin Letters through Austenprose PR for a book tour. Thank you so much for this opportunity!


With all the historical fiction I’ve read, after starting this one, I realized I think this is my first Cold War historical fiction. And it’s one war that I don’t know much about. So this was very eye-opening for me. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy historical fiction, even when it’s not based on or inspired by a real person, I know that the research needed to make them feel real and believable has to be thorough, and this one you can easily see required a lot.


Not only do we get to see a closer look at the Cold War, but we also get to see some espionage that takes place during it through the use of codes within letters. I’ve only read a small handful of spy fiction, but this one is probably my favorite of them all! The amount of details around the espionage was not only informative but was enjoyable to read, I wanted to learn more about the details around code breaking and the amount of effort needed to create the codes in the first place. It was so interesting!


From the very start of this, I was entranced. The prologue sets up the novel by heartbreakingly beautifully describing the horrors the people of Berlin faced the day they put up the barbed wire fence separating the east side from the west. Just from those few short pages at the beginning, my heart was entirely captured, and wanted to know what happened next. I flowed through the rest of the book with ease, I loved the different timelines we see bouncing between Luisa and her father, Haris. The generational story arc was fitting for this novel and written beautifully.


I’ve always enjoyed war fiction, but this one makes me keen on picking up another historical fiction set around the Cold War! I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys war fiction, historical fiction, and spy fiction!

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